Pharmac funding for contraceptive Mirena could benefit thousands of Kiwis

Contraceptive IUD's are about to become more accessible for tens of thousands of Kiwi women. 

Pharmac is proposing to fund the devices, which are one of the only forms of long-term contraception, and currently cost hundreds of dollars. 

For new mum Michelle Dwight, having a Mirena has made life a lot easier. 

She decided to get the IUD after suffering serious side effects from the contraceptive pill.

"The Mirena I had fitted was not actually for contraception back in 2012, it was to help with my periods," says Dwight.

Several years later it was removed so she could start a family and then reinserted following the birth of her son Kobe. 

The devices have cost Michelle more than $700.

But a new funding proposal from Pharmac means that cost would be significantly reduced. 

"It's a great opportunity for people to have a broader range of choices around the contraceptives they want to use," says Lisa Williams, director of operations at Pharmac.

Family Planning has been advocating for Mirena to be more accessible for all women.

"In a lot of cases somebody would like to have a Mirena but the cost is a complete barrier to getting it," says Rose Stewart, Family Planning national advisor.

Currently a Mirena device costs around $340 dollars, plus the cost of the appointment and procedure.

With Pharmac funding, the device would be free, meaning women only need to pay to have it inserted. 

"So now that they won't have to pay that amount of money that makes it much more accessible," says Stewart.

Under the proposal, Pharmac would fund two types of contraceptive IUDs from November 1: Mirena, which is also used to help manage endometriosis and heavy bleeding; and Jaydess, a new product. 

It is estimated an additional 21,000 women will be able to access the devices each year. 

"I just think it's a basic right that women should have to be able to control their fertility like this," says Dwight.

And while Dwight was fortunate enough to be able to afford her Mirena, she knows making them cheaper will help many more women.

"It's going to make a huge difference for a lot of people," she says.

Pharmac will confirm the funding in October.